Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Blub and Bang....

A grumpy perspective on Houston and hurricanes:

There are no zoning laws in Texas, so you can build whatever you want, wherever you want.  (Of course if you are rich, there are deed restrictions in certain areas……so  no blacks or Jews.  Catholics even).

Also, there is little in the way of environmental overlook.  For instance, no builders or developers in the Houston area were required to ameliorate their water runoff like we do in LA……where it hardly rains.  Most of Houston is paved…..impervious surfaces that water runs off on to…. wherever it goes.  In LA, folks are asked to pave the driveway with bricks turned on their sides, so there is soil between, or to use porous asphalt, etc.  Too expensive and too much trouble.

Texans, in their wisdom have also diverted environmental funds towards Crisis Pregnancy Centers, supposedly replacing Planned Parenthood, where women are counseled against abortion and family planning.  Awesome.  Texas has the highest infant mortality in the developed world and is the only state in the US whose teen pregnancy rate is going backwards.

When Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey and New York, 20 Texas Republican congressmen voted against emergency funds for those afflicted, along with both their Senators.  Even Chris Christie has called bullshit on their supposed “fiscally responsible” justifications for this move.  Even if they had released the money, it was not an add-on, but was required to be taken from somewhere else in the budget.  

I wonder how they will vote next month (they are all on vacation) on the minimum $100 billion it will take to band-aid Houston?  If they get to it, because Trump’s big agenda for this month is tax cuts for folks making over $250k.

Trump’s budget also slashes NOAA’s budget, and last year’s House budget tried to get rid of NOAA’s hurricane monitoring air wing.  There is still no NOAA director.

Two weeks ago Trump killed an Obama measure that laid out minimum rebuild standards for folks getting federal dollars after a flood, hurricane, tornado, fire, etc.  “Slap it together and put it right back on the beach, Bubba!  Here’s your check, and we’ll see you in a year!”  This should go over especially well in Texas, what with the no zoning and minimal building standards.

Another cool Texas business friendly law lets chemical companies…..who can build right next to your high school….refuse to tell the public what kind of chemicals they have or how much.  This came about after the West, Texas ammonium nitrate explosion that leveled a town, three schools and killed 15 people.  After the explosion, they decided that the public knew WAY too much about chemicals.

Right now in Crosby, Texas outside Houston there is a French-owned chemical company (Arkema) with troubles.  They process fuming peroxides for plastics and whatnot.  The peroxides have to be kept cool, and three layers of emergency refrigeration have all failed due to flooding.  They have cleared the plant and as much of the neighborhood as will leave.  Arkema refuses to tell what chemicals they are trying to keep cool.  They and the government allow as how there will most likely be an explosion and fire…..but “it shouldn’t be too bad.”  Engineers and scientists say that it could well be bigger than the West explosion.  No one can check on temps at the plant because…..well, it could go at any time.  Yippee!

My awesome, courageous sister-in-law and husband (also awesomely courageous) lived in Texas.  For various reasons they bailed, dumped their house at a loss and moved to Cincinatti.  Almost immediately, Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer. 
Her take?  “I would rather have breast cancer and live in Cincinatti than be healthy and stuck in Texas.”

Told you I was grumpy…..


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